By Jennifer Buggica, Foodable Contributor
Number seven on our list of the six biggest food trends of 2013 would have been figs. In 2012, Food & Wine listed the fig as the food trend to be a part of in the upcoming year, and a part of it we all were, loving it all the while. Figs have evolved from those cookies our grandparents ate to having a place on our plate in other forms.
A Brief History.
Even though figs are becoming more and more popular now, they have actually been enjoyed and appreciated for centuries. As one of the oldest fruits, it’s about time that modern man came to understand and appreciate the fig for what it is, and the complexity it can bring to a dish.
The fig originated in Asia Minor, but it was Spaniards who eventually brought figs to America in the 1520’s. This particular variety of fig was named the Mission fig after these Spanish missionaries. Some records even date the fig back to 2500 B.C. Figs, being one of the sweetest fruits in existence, were generally used during this era to enhance the flavors of dishes in this time before refined sugars started hitting our dinner tables.
Figs can bring a complexity to a meal that you might not normally have. Chewy and sweet, with different varieties, figs work well in both sweet dishes and savory meals. More than just taste, however, figs provide many health benefits that both foodies and non-foodies alike are taking note of and giving credit for. Loaded with potassium, fiber and antioxidants, figs are effective at lowering high blood pressure, combatting age-related vision problems, and assisting with keeping one’s heart healthy.
The Right Balance.
The fig usage in home-cooked meals and restaurant offerings has only continued to grow since the popularity took off in the beginning of 2013. Now, more than ever, restaurants are putting out quality dishes that highlight the fig. Appreciating figs and allowing those flavors to be a key component of the dish will elevate it into the next stratosphere.
Bacon-Wrapped Figs are popular at restaurants and welcomed by many guests. The crunchy and chewy textures combine, along with the salty and sweet flavor profiles, to create a delectable bite-sized treat. Stuffed figs are also fairly common. Cheeses like bleu, gorgonzola and goat, or meats such as prosciutto, frequently make their home inside of a fig. Figs are perfect in salads, on crostini, or drizzled with honey. Grilled, fried, roasted or broiled, figs are admired every which way.
The diversity of figs to complement nearly any item has made the fruit into what it is today – securing its rightful place among kale and arugula, exotic proteins and all kinds of meals, from simple to complex. Figs, both fresh and dried, are getting the recognition they deserve, being ordered in restaurants, and being utilized at home.